During summer 2006, the NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (NAMMA) organized a field campaign in Africa called Special Observation Period (SOP-3), in which scientists in the field were involved in a number of surface network and aircraft measurements. One of the scientific goals of the campaign was to understand the nature and causes for tropical cyclogenesis originating out of African Easterly Waves (AEWs, westward propagating atmospheric disturbances sometimes associated with precursors of hurricanes), and the role that the Saharan Air Layer (SAL, a hot and dry air layer advecting large amounts of dust) can play in the formation or suppression of tropical cyclones. During the NAMMA campaign a high-resolution global model, the NASA GEOS-5, was operationally run by the NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) in support to the mission. The daily GEOS-5 forecasts were found to be very useful by decision-making scientists in the field as an aid to discriminate between developing and non-developing AEWs and plan the flight tracks. In the post-event analyses which were performed mostly by the Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres, two events were highlighted: a non-developing AEW which appeared to have been suppressed by Saharan air, compared to a developing AEW which was the precursor of hurricane Helene. Both events were successfully predicted by the GEOS-5 during the real-time forecasts provided in support to the mission. In this work it is found that very steep moisture gradients and a strong thermal dipole, with relatively warm air in the mid-troposphere and cool air below, are associated with SAL in both the GEOS-5 forecasts and the NCEP analyses, even at -great distance- from the Sahara. The presence of these unusual thermodynamic features over the Atlantic Ocean, at several thousands of kilometers from the African coastline, is suggestive that SAL mixing is very minimal and that the model's capability of retaining the different properties of air masses during transport are important to represent effectively the role of dry air intrusions in the tropical circulation.